Tibetan and Himalayan Library - THL

THL Title Text
by John Vincent Bellezza
Edited by Geoffrey Barstow, Mickey Stockwell and Michael White
Tibetan & Himalayan Library
Published under the THL Digital Text License.

II. Archaic Ceremonial Monuments

II.2. Superficial structures: Primarily funerary superstructure

Superficial structures, mostly consisting of stone enclosures, many of which appear to be the superstructures of tombs or funerary ritual venues, are found all over Upper Tibet. In this work 92 such sites are detailed. Without the benefit of excavation, the analysis of subsurface grave architecture and the study of grave goods, the typological classification proposed here must be seen as provisional. It is based on a visual appraisal of the morphology, orientation and constructional qualities of the various kinds of superficial structures, and makes no provision for chronological development or cultural affiliation. Superficial structures are found in large numbers throughout Upper Tibet, demonstrating that burial was once a dominant form of corpse disposal in the region. The archaeological evidence shows that the culture of burial spread widely and took a number of distinctive forms in the region. Very significant chronological, social, economic and even cultural variability is likely reflected in the diverse types of tombs found in Upper Tibet. It has not yet been determined which funerary superficial structures overlie tombs and which were only used in mortuary rites.

Superficial structures are frequently attributed in the oral tradition to the MönMon in all areas east of the 89th meridian. They are commonly labeled möndurmon dur (MönMon tombs), mönpé durkhungmon pa’i dur khung (tombs of the MönMon), möndomon rdo (MönMon stones), mönramon ra (MönMon enclosures), and mönkhangmon khang (MönMon houses). In the eastern JangtangByang thang, the MönMon do not figure as a legendary motif; rather, large tomb complexes are often fancied to be the remains of monasteries that were destroyed by Mongol groups such as the 18th century CE Jungarjun gar.


Note Citation for Page

John Vincent Bellezza, (Charlottesville, VA: Tibetan & Himalayan Library, 2010), .

Bibliographic Citation

John Vincent Bellezza. . Charlottesville, VA: Tibetan & Himalayan Library, 2010.